- Brian James
ESPN Insider Brian James will provide scouting reports throughout the NBA playoffs.
Keys in Game 1
Phoenix: Steve Nash got his league MVP trophy that night, but when it comes to playing against Nash's old team, the MVP is Amare Stoudemire. He knows that no one in a Dallas uniform can stop him with single coverage. He brought Erick Dampier a step farther out than normal, then shot or drove by the slower defenders, repeatedly beating Dampier and his backups to score 40 points. He also hit 14 of 17 free throws in the process. That was the biggest difference between Stoudemire and Dirk Nowitzki. Both made 13 field goals, but Nowitzki had only one free-throw attempt. The eight days off had the Suns energized, rested and running as usual. In fact, Phoenix also had the better all-around defense. Joe Johnson was in the passing lanes and disrupted the Mavs by getting four of Phoenix's 10 steals. The Suns turned 17 Dallas turnovers into 26 points. Stoudemire clogged everything down low and was catlike in getting to the strong side to contest shots. Quentin Richardson took three charges. Johnson even hit seven straight shots en route to a 25-point night, and he was the backup point guard when Nash went out with early foul trouble. The Suns had more 3s, free throws, assists, steals and fast-break points in Game 1. It's easy to see why they dominated.
14hMatt Walks, ESPN.com